8th April 2015: The rate of independent record shop openings is on the rise as more than 40 new shops have opened in UK high streets in the last 5 years. The most dramatic increase came in 2014, with more than 50% of openings occurring in the last 12 months alone.
The upsurge comes hand in hand with the recent revival of vinyl sales. For 2015, Q1 sales of vinyl albums are already up 74% on the previous year and are showing no sign of slowing down as this year’s Record Store Day is just around the corner.
Customer experience is Key
A key driving force behind the success of these new retailers stems from the innovative experiential factor that stores are able to offer both the dedicated music fan and the casual buyer. In recent years, stores have added pies, books, coffee shops and gig stages to the high street. One of the new breed of shops, The LP café which recently opened on The Parade in Watford, allows customers to enjoy the tastiest coffees and cakes as well as offering buyers the opportunity to discover the best new and vintage records around. This is encouraging a whole new variety of shoppers to discover the joys of indie record shops in their local community which they may not have been aware of before.
Alexandra Howard of the LP Café said “The range of people we attract in-store is something I'm very proud of. As when we set out to create The LP Cafe, I wanted it to be somewhere without prejudice. We get the young, the old and people from all different types of backgrounds. We see musicians, artists, coffee lovers, collectors - and it's great to see those who would never normally interact form amazing relationships inside our walls.”
Product knowledge and new technology drive openings
For the more hard-core of record collectors, it’s the specialist shops which are engaging music lovers by offering knowledge and insight for the dedicated fan’s needs. Newcastle’s Vinyl Guru, which opened only this year, is a big champion of the North East music scene and has an excellent response from the local community and smaller independent labels in the area. When asked about the future of Vinyl Guru, owner Chris Larkin insisted it’s dependent on the fusion of modern technology and respect for the vintage format. He said “We like to integrate the best of new technology alongside the best of the old. Our jukebox has QR codes on the song title strips so you can get extra information on the artist on your smart phone. We're big fans of social media so we'll be using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc, to keep customers up to date with new releases, offers and in store events. We'll be livestreaming all our in store performances online and we've got superfast 156Mb free Wifi for customers who register for one of our free loyalty cards”
Sales up almost 800% in 5 years
The revival of vinyl at retail has seen a huge jump in sales value since 2008. The total vinyl album market stood at just £3.3m in 2009 and by 2014 had increased to £25.9 million.
The annual celebration of the culture of our fantastic independent retail scene takes place on the 18th April as Record Store Day is now in its 8th year in the UK. There are over 550 releases exclusive to independent record shops and special events and performances taking place all across the country.
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Notes to Editor
Record Store Day was conceived 9 years ago in the USA and was brought to the UK a year later. Now in its 8th year and co-ordinated by the Entertainment Retailers Association and Spencer Hickman, the day brings together hundreds of the UK’s independent record shops to celebrate their own unique culture. Exclusive vinyl is made available on the day and the stores often have live shows and other in store events to celebrate the day.